The first step in advertising isn’t selling.
It’s creating dissatisfaction.
If you don’t think you have a problem that needs fixing, there’s no reason for you to act on a solution.
In the 1970s, the average person might have been exposed to 500 advertising messages a day — watching TV, driving down the highway, picking up a cereal box. Today, some experts think that number’s closer to 5,000.
I think it might be even more, because now everyone’s advertising themselves, building the dissatisfaction machines of Facebook and Instagram: look at me, check my style, see my kids, envy my vacation.
At every turn or click, we self-diagnose a problem based on someone’s false prescription of wholeness.
Paul taught against those selling gospel dissatisfaction in Colossians 2:18-19: Let no one disqualify you, (1) insisting on asceticism and (2) worship of angels, (3) going on in detail about visions, (4) puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head… Colossians 2:18-19 (numbers mine)
These people and these prescriptions for spiritual wholeness are still alive and kicking. You might recognize them:
1. The disciplined ascetic. “Control your environment, your career, your ministry, your schedule, your food, your family, your body, and you’ll be made right.”
2. The faux-humble guru. “Can anyone really know God? Can anyone really say they have truth? Peace comes through admitting we don’t have the answers.”*
3. The thrill seeker. “Faith isn’t faith if it’s not spectacular; get out there and claim your miracle!”
4. The sensualist. “Spiritual life should feel good. If it doesn’t make you happy or feel great about yourself, or if it requires too much of you, it must not be from God.”
The problem with prescriptions that promise to make us better is that we’ve already been made well in Christ. As we’ve studied, he has now reconciled (you) in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him (Colossians 1:22).
We don’t need anything other than Jesus to be made right. The symptoms of sin are with us, but the disease has been healed; our aches and pains no longer lead us to death.
Powerful Christian life never comes from symptom management.
It comes from knowing we’re cured.
True growth happens when we cling to Christ first. We see Him. We know Him. We study and meditate on what He’s done for us. We begin to see ourselves clearly, as the precious treasure He came to fight for and call His own — no matter how bruised and scarred and sick we’ve been.
Slowly, our lives transform and our symptoms ease — not because we are better, faster, stronger — but because our confidence grows in the One who cannot be shaken, in the One whose stripes have healed the brokenhearted and bound up our wounds (Psalm 62:6; Isaiah 53:5; Psalm 147:3).
Paul points to this truth in the last part of today’s verse: we only stray to false prescriptions when we are no longer holding fast to the Head, who is Christ.
When we let go of Jesus, we’ll grab onto anything.
But no one can sell us dissatisfaction if we know our problem is already solved.